Undergraduate Advising Related FAQs

MatSE Advising-Related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who is my adviser?

You can access the name of your adviser in the Student Center within LionPATH. Your adviser should also be listed in the My Professional Network section of Starfish. If you do not have an assigned adviser, please see Meg Abplanalp in 225C Steidle.

I’m currently in the pre-major (EMSC_PMAJ). When can I declare MATSE_BS as my major?

Once you have completed 29.1 cumulative credits and have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0. To declare your major, head to the Update Academics section of LionPATH and select MATSE_BS from the Major drop-down menu.

What is a degree audit? How do I find mine?

A degree audit is a checklist of your degree requirements and shows you what you’ve completed, as well as what still needs to be done. You can access yours by selecting What-If Report and/or Academic Requirements from the drop-down menu in LionPATH’s Student Center.

Can I study abroad?

Yes, you certainly may! MatSE students have two main options for going abroad: (1) choosing a Penn State Education Abroad Program, and (2) participating in an International Internship in Materials (IIM). Penn State Education Abroad offers nearly 300 programs each year to many different countries and spread across six continents. Please visit http://global.psu.edu to learn more. Our in-house IIM program allows MatSE students to travel abroad to work on a research project with others from around the world; you can learn more at www.matse.psu.edu/undergraduate/internships-and-careers/iim. The main difference between these two options is that Education Abroad provides a cultural experience while completing 1-2 general education courses, while the IIM program focuses on research in an international setting.

How can I transfer in a summer course taken at another institution?

Any Penn State students that take classes at different institutions while enrolled at Penn State should send the official transcript directly from the institution to Penn State Undergraduate Admissions (201 Shields Building) in order for the course work to be evaluated for transfer credit. Please note that credits are transferred; grades are not. Credits transferred from another school do not affect a student’s GPA. A $25 processing fee will be posted to your student account once an official college transcript is received and credits are processed on your record in LionPATH. Please see http://admissions.psu.edu/admissions/index.cfm/info/future/transfer/credit/ for more details.

Where can I find more information about internships and co-ops?

In addition to the IIM program, students are encouraged to seek internship and co-op opportunities outside of Penn State. The department regularly posts job opportunities on its website, www.matse.psu.edu/jobs. Further, the department has partnered with the College of Engineering’s eCareer office to offer career advice and internship opportunities to MatSE students. Please see www.engr.psu.edu/career for further information.

What can I do with a MatSE degree?

As you probably already know, a student can pursue careers in several different areas of the field of Materials Science and Engineering. A great place to start researching the field is the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, at http://www.bls.gov. Be sure to check out both Materials Engineering and Materials Science career fields. Students can also attend graduate school for more advanced study.

How do I get involved in research?

Just ask! Typically, students express interest in this to their academic adviser, who then points them to certain faculty members, depending on subject. Our faculty are accessible and it is up to the student to reach out directly.

How do I apply for MatSE scholarships?

Each spring, the department opens up the online application for department-specific, MatSE-funded scholarships. These are merit-based and are awarded based on GPA. Please see http://www.matse.psu.edu/undergraduate/financial-aid for more information. MatSE students are also encouraged to apply for College of EMS-specific scholarships through www.ems.psu.edu.

How do I obtain access to the MatSE computer lab?

Our MatSE computer lab, located in 116 Steidle Building, is limited to MatSE and EMSC (pre-major, intending on MatSE) students only. Please see Andrea Michaels in 225 Steidle for a lab access form.

What options do I have for the required senior thesis?

The senior thesis can be accomplished via two different courses: MATSE 493W and MATSE 494W. The selection of the senior thesis course will be made during the 6th semester in MATSE 492W.

MATSE 493W is a senior capstone experience in the College of Engineering’s Learning Factory. The student selects his or her top 5 choices of topics from a list of industry-sponsored projects seeking MatSE students, and joins a multi-discipline team to work on the assigned topic. Most likely, the student will be the only MatSE student on the team.

MATSE 494W is the traditional senior individual research thesis. This course is usually taken over a summer and semester, or two semesters. The student joins a research group to perform the thesis. The thesis advisor does not have to be MatSE faculty, but the thesis topic should be materials-focused. For 494W, 3 credits are taken in total, but those credits can be distributed as determined by the student and his or her thesis advisor. Before the third credit can be graded, the Undergraduate Office must have received a complete and signed copy of the thesis. It is highly recommended that the student taking this course have previous research experience.

Are there any MatSE student clubs or organizations?

Yes! Our students participate in Material Advantage and Keramos. Materials Advantage, a student-run chapter of professional societies, arranges industry trips, fundraising activities, social events, and lab demonstrations for visitors and area children. Keramos, the National Professional Ceramic Engineering Fraternity, is a student group that works to promote and emphasize scholarship and character. Membership to both organizations opens in the fall semester of each academic year.